August 17, 2017


Yellow Ribbon Project

I’m comin’ home, I’ve done my time
Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine
If you received my letter telling you I’d soon be free
Then you’ll know just what to do
If you still want me, if you still want me
Whoa, tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree
It’s been three long years, do you still want me?

The Yellow Ribbon Project was launched in Singapore in 2004 to help reintegrate rehabilitated prisoners into the workforce. After serving their sentence, prisoners often returned to crime because of the rejection they faced during their job hunt. Companies did not want to hire ex-convicts. Discouraged by their social and financial isolation, rehabilitated prisoners returned to crime to make ends meet. Therefore, the Yellow Ribbon Project aimed to encourage companies and communities to accept and support the released convicts, to help prevent them from returning to a life of crime.

It is easy to understand why companies rejected the ex-convicts. However, companies also have a social responsibility to help rehabilitate the community in which they operate. It is no longer acceptable for businesses to only meet their financial obligations. Governance such as South Africa’s King III, social trends pushing for corporate accountability, and globalisation which requires companies to engage with poorer, disenfranchised communities, are all forceful reasons for companies to become socially responsible. A triple bottom line must be met: ethics, social responsibility, and finances. Corporates need to set examples in society as to how to deal with issues such as convict reintegration, because in today’s world businesses’ influence is huge. It can make the difference between a profitable company situated in a thriving, supportive economy versus a despised company exploiting a poor community. Companies can no longer operate in isolation. Companies need to tie the proverbial yellow ribbon to their doors.

Bus driver, please look for me
‘Cause I couldn’t bear to see what I might see
I’m really still in prison and my love, she holds the key
A simple yellow ribbon’s what I need to set me free
And I wrote and told her please

Now the whole damned bus is cheerin’
And I can’t believe I see
A hundred yellow ribbons round the ole oak tree
I’m comin’ home

 – Tony Orlando “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘round the Ole Oak Tree” –

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